Thumb Sucking

It is generally accepted that thumb sucking is a developed habit and is not specifically related to an emotional disturbance.  However, emotional problems can ultimately effect the severity of the habit, and sometimes its duration.

Sucking is one of the first things a baby does.  Because sucking supplies nourishment, it is one of the first sources of pleasure and contentment.  When a hand or finger comes near the face, the infant’s natural response is to take it into the mouth.  The child then finds that sucking the thumb may give some of the same pleasurable feelings as feeding.  Thumb sucking can be considered relatively harmless until approximately 4 to 5 years of age.

Prolonged and extensive thumb sucking past the age when the first permanent teeth are erupting can be harmful to future dental health and development.  Not only can the habit result in protruded front teeth, but more importantly and more difficult to correct, it can cause abnormal swallowing, narrowness of the upper dental arch, and a generalized malocculsion.

Leave a Reply